51 for LI: Repeat Performance in Super Bowl XIV
[lead align=”default”]Two weeks from today, you will see Super Bowl LI. Super Bowl XIV saw the curtain call for a dynasty.[/lead]
The first Super Bowl of the 1980s, in January to be exact, was a competitive one that turned late. On one hand, you had the AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers, winners of three (going on four) Super Bowls in the 70s. The other sideline belonged to the Los Angeles Rams, a team with success in the 1970s, but not much to show for it. During the 1979 season, they finally cashed in on a playoff appearance.
Super Bowl XIV: 1979 Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers were Super Bowl champions entering the 1979 season. While they played this year, they would see their cross-town companions, the Pittsburgh Pirates, win the World Series. While “We Are Family” and Willie Stargell got it done in baseball, Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris did in football.
Pittsburgh went 12-4 to win the AFC Central, despite Bradshaw throwing 26 touchdowns and a whopping 25 interceptions. You can thank the “Steel Curtain” defense for that, with names like Mean Joe Greene and Mel Blount.
As the AFC’s two seed, Pittsburgh beat up Miami and Houston to get back to the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XIV: 1979 Los Angeles Rams
It would be hard to call the 1979 Rams an upstart, because they won the division seven years in a row. Until this season, however, they didn’t get to the Super Bowl. It took a 9-7 season for them to get over the hump.
They were the NFC’s three seed, barely scraping out a division title. Vince Ferragamo led them into the playoffs, where they squeaked out a Divisional win over the Dallas Cowboys. This was followed by a 9-0 shutout win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to reach the Super Bowl. When they got there, they had (at the time) the lowest point differential for any Super Bowl team.
Super Bowl XIV: The Game
Pittsburgh entered the game as a heavy favorite to repeat, to the tune of 10.5 points. They did, in fact, cover the spread.
Yet, the Rams held the lead several times in this Super Bowl. Their first came at the end of the first quarter on a Cullen Bryant touchdown run (7-3), their second was at halftime on a Frank Corral field goal just earlier (13-10), and their third lead was after three quarters thanks to a Ron Smith touchdown catch (19-17).
So, to recap: the Rams led after the first, second, and third quarters. They did not lead after the fourth quarter, because the Steelers shut them out, 14-0, in the closing 15 minutes to win, 31-19. Terry Bradshaw was named Super Bowl MVP despite throwing more interceptions (3) than touchdowns (2), as he otherwise had a very strong effort.
As for the Rams, they would leave Los Angeles 15 years later and come back 21 years after that, winning a Super Bowl in between.